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Comic Review: TMNT Universe #20

by Dan Gehen

Get ready for a cool but rude (or is it crude?) issue featuring everyone’s hotheaded reptile. The featured story concludes the “Service Animals” story, while the backup sees a Raphael-style insomnia remedy.

Comic Review: TMNT Universe #20

(w) Ian Flynn & Matthew K. Manning (a) Dave Wachter & Adam Gorham (c) Ronda Pattison & Brittany Peer

As a comics fan, I often find myself asking what benefits are there for multiple books that take place in the same universe? While it makes sense when dealing with different characters or concepts, the idea of having multiple Superman or Spider-Man comics seemed confounding to me, especially when they make following the character’s story that much more convoluted. Yet every so often, a story comes around that is really good and reminds us why multiple books can not just be a good idea, but a great one.

To flip the script, let’s discuss the back-up feature first. Penned by Matthew K. Manning (TMNT Adventures) and illustrated by Adam Gorham and Brittany Peer, their story is a simple but entertaining slice-of-life tale. After a hard night out on patrol, all Raphael wants to do is get some shut-eye. Unfortunately, Mikey is hard at work getting the high score in a video game. Loudly. It turns out Mikey is having trouble sleeping, so Raph takes it upon himself to provide his own remedy: a sparing match intended to tire him out. It’s an entertaining, yet touching tale which showcases that even hotheaded Raphael can be nurturing… in his own unique way.

As for the main event, the side-quest of Raphael and Alopex taking on Zodi is a quality action story with a healthy injection of heartfelt moments. While Raph has the unenviable task of trying to subdue Zodi, Alopex is left to take on an anthropomorphic snake named Krisa. Much like the Turtles were able to free her from the Foot’s control, Alopex attempts a similar tactic with her serpentine combatant – and she’s able to get through. While Krisa’s vulnerability to persuasion borders on the absurd, her quick of captured pet turned mutant weapon appears to play a major role in her malleable moral compass.

Zodi is arguably the best new addition to the TMNT canon since Old Hob. It’s not due to her character design, which is surprisingly not gross for a mutated scorpion, but rather her personality. Her fighting style comes straight out of the Peter Parker playbook, that is, hurl a constant barrage of insults at your opponent to knock them off their game. Given that her combatant for the majority of the issue is Raphael, the tactic is more than effective. It certainly makes for one of the most entertaining fight sequences in recent memory.

Dave Wachter, in my opinion, is never bad. Even his subpar work is better than a number of more well regarded artists on their best day. I’ve gushed about his work in all my past reviews, and all of those hold true here. Ditto for Ronda Pattison’s colors.

TMNT Universe #20 finishes the current, two-issue arc on a high note thanks to a solid main feature and an absolutely delightful backup. This series has become a garden for which the seeds of stories featured in the main TMNT series are planted and harvested. If “Service Animals” is anything to go by,  what this story eventually blossoms into should be special.


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